There is nothing short of action here in Roatan, Honduras.
With the fifth annual Caribbean Cup beginning August 19th and AIDA Individual World Championships right behind on the 22nd most athletes are piggy backing Worlds on top of the Caribbean Cup using the annual comp as a warm up session for the big show.
This year’s Worlds is one of the largest with 82 competitors and 26 different countries being represented. Organizer, Esteban Darhanpe has his hands full but has a stellar staff to help keep things running smoothly. Safety divers have been here for weeks now as athletes are trickling in to train up. With two weeks to go the island of Roatan is already saturated with freedivers, creating a nice little buzz in the villages of West End and West Bay.
Darhanpe is pulling out all the stops for this year’s World Championships.
He has spent countless hours over several months getting everything together to prove that bigger just might be better.
I know this personally because I spent countless hours helping Ren Chapman pack all of the random gear and schlep it from North Carolina to Roatan. The Roatan Worlds boasts some pretty interesting stats being only the third World Championships ever to be hosted in the Western Hemisphere behind Kirk Krack’s Vancouver 2004 Team Championships and William Trubridge’s 2009 Bahamas Individual World Championships. Sorry Europe but with the South American freedive community stepping it up, the West has arrived! Let’s be clear, I’m not really sorry, Europe. Those plane tickets get pricey for us North and South Americans!
At the helm again as chief of safety and logistics, Ren Chapman, is working with Esteban and the rest of the safety crew to ensure that this is not just the biggest and the best World comp but also one of the safest. Safety is on everyone’s mind right now in light of several freediving deaths this year including the most recent, and closest to home, Stephen Keenan’s untimely passing. The climate here is equal parts hyper vigilance regarding safety with an undertone of grief. The opening ceremonies here in Roatan will include a tribute to safety diver, Stephen Keenan.
Photographer, Daan Verhoeven of The Netherlands came up with the idea for all athletes to wear a Freedive Dahab shirt in lieu of their national shirts during the opening ceremonies of Worlds. French diver and Dahab Freediver (where Stephen was co-owner) staff member, Lily Crespy will join the freediving crew in Honduras August 20th with shirts for everyone. Needless to say, the community of competitors and staff happily obliged, eager to mourn together while showing support for Stephen’s family, friends, and partners. The safety team and competitors alike will also use the grievous fatality to bring awareness to the constant vigilance and demanding safety measures needed in every single freedive we take part in. There is never, ever room for mistakes in a sport like this. Luckily, we all have each other’s backs!
Stay tuned as Ashley and DeeperBlue.com bring you the run-up and action to the 2017 AIDA Individual World Championships in Roatan.
Photos Courtesy of Alex St Jean